About 20% of the UK?s population live in flats, of which most have a ?vertical neighbour?. Whilst modern apartment blocks are generally well sound-insulated, this may not be the case with, for example, a converted Victorian property.
This is particularly the case when it comes to the trend towards exposing original timber floorboards. Last year nearly 40,000 complaints were received by environmental health officers over 'impact noise' arising from people walking on wooden floors above their neighbours.
Indeed, in Scotland, where nearly twice as many people live in flats compared to the UK as a whole, a recent study by Napier University, funded by the government, has revealed that walking on a carpet with underlay is 22 decibels quieter than walking on a wooden floor - the equivalent noise reduction of wearing earplugs! The discrepancy between walking on exposed wooden and carpeted concrete floors is even higher, with a 34dB difference.
Hopefully, considerate flat-dwellers and developers will think of the consequences for neighbours before exposing their floorboards, although current laws are technically unclear on this point. People who create noise nuisance are liable in law. This could actually make a tenant liable, as they are literally creating the noise itself. However future case histories may yet prove that a developer who sells a ?noisy floor? could also be found guilty.
In terms of saleability, trends come and trends go, and whilst stripped floors can look good in the right environment, they could potentially cause a prospective buyer to consider the additional cost of carpeting when making an offer, should they be concerned about noise nuisance. And if you are buying a flat, it might just be worth asking about the floor upstairs if you are to avoid sleepless nights!
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